"I JAILED ALUSHKIN." PENZA SECURITY AGENTS THINK THEY HAVE CARTE BLANCHE FOR RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION
Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 13 January 2020
On 27 December 2019, in Penza, law enforcement officers arrested two women on the pretense of seeking fraudsters. As it turned out later, the real reason for the arrest was religious convictions. One of the security agents bragged that "I jailed Alushkin."
Two friends, aged 26 and 29 years, visited a local resident who the day before had invited them to converse about the Bible. Practically immediately behind the believers two police officers entered the lobby. Major Valery Kulikov declared that the women allegedly fit the description of a fraudster being sought and forced them to follow him to the police department. As it turned out, there were no specific descriptions of the believers and the police picked them out at random, but the description and appearance of the detainees did not match the description.
The women were not charged with any crime and without evident grounds they were taken to another department where the security officers continued the interrogation. The detainees were searched and cell phones were taken. The officers tried by deceit and intimidation to take fingerprints. At the same time the believers were threatened and psychological pressure was applied to them. During the interrogation, one of the women became ill.
The police officers inquired about the detainees' religious convictions, asking whether they needed help in order "to get out of the sect."
Law enforcement agents were especially interested in whether the women were acquainted with Vladimir Alushkin, who was sentenced to six years for professing his faith, on 13 December 2019.
A security officer named Bykov, who introduced himself as an "investigator for extremism cases," stated that the women did not need to share their faith with others. He said that now security officers have to decide "what kind of case to open, a criminal one on extremism or an administrative one on missionary activity." After the interrogation, the women were released.
The incidents described happened just two weeks after the sentencing by the Lenin district court of Penza of six citizens whose faith the security officers did not like. Besides Vladimir Alushkin, his wife, Tatiana, and also Galia Olkhova, Denis Timoshin, Andrei Magliv, and Vladimir Kuliasov were convicted on the extremism article. Alushkin's wife and his four acquaintances received two years probation each. (tr. by PDS, posted 13 January 2020)
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